WNC engineering students adapt to COVID restrictions through creative exercise

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Students in Lior Singer’s engineering class at Western Nevada College learn how to work together during an exercise to start fall semester.

Courtesy Steve Yingling, Western Nevada College

Students in Lior Singer’s engineering classes at Western Nevada College must have thought they were going to spend their first day of fall semester eating.

After all, Singer brought an ample supply of spaghetti and pretzels to the classroom.

Instead, the future engineers learned about team building and what can be accomplished during social distancing restrictions brought on by COVID-19, demonstrating how the college has come together with creative solutions to the challenges of 2020.

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Singer tasked his Introduction to Engineering Design classes with building a bridge between students spaced farthest from each other using only spaghetti sticks and tape.

“Engineers strive to build bridges between people to bring them together in creative ways; this is especially important in these days of social distancing,” Singer said.

To make it competitive, he assigned his students to teams with the objective of seeing how many pretzels they could pass — without touching them with their hands — from one side of their bridges to the other.

Furthermore, the students couldn’t leave their seats and they needed to remain 6 feet apart.

“I tried it in both of my classes and it was a big success. The students had a lot of fun, and this is most important,” Singer said. “I hope it would inspire other instructors to do this exercise.”

Singer’s ingenious and creative exercise was endorsed by academic leaders on campus.

“It’s a great example of the ‘teaching renaissance’ that is happening … new challenges breed new solutions!” said Scott Morrison, academic director of the Liberal Arts Division. “Our instructors are pulling out all the stops to support student success and keep them moving swiftly toward college degrees!”

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